By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation Weekend
NO ONE’S going to stumble by chance on Thai-food restaurant Jarn Kub Kao. It’s on a lane that zigzags across Vibhavadi Rangsit, Ratchadapisek and Lad Phrao roads. And yet it’s packed every lunch- and dinnertime with loyal customers who love the homey, cosy ambience as much as the cuisine.
Painted a remarkable mustard tone, the two-year-old restaurant occupies a renovated two-storey house on Vibhavadi Rangsit Soi 20. You can also get there from Ratchadapisek Soi 19 and Lad Phrao Soi 18.
The dining area is a humble gathering of wooden tables and chairs plus marble tables with grey sofas. On the walls are decorative plates from the May & Clay Ceramics Studio.
Most inviting of all is the inner area under a high ceiling that was created by removing part of the floor above. Tall windows let the natural light in. One wall features charming hand-drawn illustrations of the various dishes on offer.
Sisters Wimalin and Wilanda Ratanaporn worked at the Tourism Authority of Thailand and a marketing firm, respectively, before opening Jarn Kub Kao – the name is Thai for “plate” and “rice”. Wilanda and her husband Surakiat Thienthong lived in the building before it was renovated as a restaurant.
“It’s located in a soi but it’s surrounded by many offices, such as Thai Airways and Thai PBS,” says Wimalin. “Surakiat’s mother is a great cook, so we all agreed to make use of the building by opening a restaurant serving the dishes we usually cook at home.”
The menu is extensive, most of the dishes large enough for sharing. Many of the choices are from the Central region but there are also southern delicacies and Thai-Chinese selections.
Stir-fried Crabmeat with Yellow Chilli
“Southern food is becoming popular in Bangkok restaurants thanks to the strong flavours and well-balanced tastes,” Wimalin explains. “We get fresh meat from the legs of Surat Thani paddle crabs daily, so the freshness is guaranteed, as is their natural sweetness. And every dish is cooked to order.”
Gaeng Phu Bai Chaplu
Crabmeat appears in a multitude of dishes. For Bt380 you can have it stir-fried in yellow curry or with yellow chillies or black pepper. Well worth trying for the same price is Gaeng Phu Bai Chaplu, which involves a large amount of crabmeat in strong yellow curry cooked with aromatic chaplu leaves.
Bai Liang Pad Kai
Southern cuisine never feels complete without some Pad Gapi Goong (Bt180). The stink-beans are perfectly stir-fried with chillies and scented shrimp paste.
Other real deals are the comfort foods Bai Liang Pad Kai (stir-fried liang leaves with eggs) and Kua Kling Moo Sub (spicy dried and minced pork. Each of these is Bt140.
Goong Tod Sauce Makham
Another top seller is Goong Tod Sauce Makham (Bt450) – three large fried river prawns in sweet-and-sour tamarind sauce sprinkled with fried garlic and shallot.
Health-conscious diners might hesitate over the signature dish of Moo Shanghai (braised pork belly in brown sauce, Bt250), but the soft texture and flavourful sauce ought to twist their arm. The juicy pork is slowly braised in coconut juice, brown sugar and soy sauce until tender and cut into three chunks per serving.
Pla Kem Nueng Moo Sab
Another fine choice is Pla Kem Nueng Moo Sub (Bt180) – steamed minced pork with salted fish, served with white turmeric and fresh seasonal vegetables such as cucumber and long beans. Lemon juice is presented separately if you want to tone down the saltiness.
Gluay Kai in syrup and coconut milk with coconut ice cream
The desserts include Gluay Kai, a banana in syrup and coconut milk with coconut ice cream (Bt90), Lod Chong (pandan-flavoured rice noodles in coconut milk and shaved ice, Bt45), and Chao Guay (black grass jelly in syrup and shaved ice, also Bt45).
There are also various flavours of Thong Dee-brand ice cream, carved to resemble the fruit that gives it the flavour, such as pineapple, durian, coconut, mango and dragon fruit. They’re Bt80 each.
Pineapple-and dragon-fruit-flavoured ice cream
A friend of Wimalin’s who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School bakes the cakes at home – Chocolate Flourless Cake (Bt100 a slice), White Chocolate Cheesecake (Bt120) and Double Cheese Cheesecake (Bt130).
SENSATIONAL SISTER ACT
Jarn Kub Kao on Vibhavadi Rangsit Soi 20 is open daily except Monday from 11.30am to 10pm.
Call (098) 276 1161 or visit www.Facebook.com/jarnkubkao.